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Techniques and Principles in

Language Teaching
List of Acronyms
ALM Audio-Lingual Method
BNC British National Corpus
CBI Content-based Instruction
CLL Community Language Learning
CLT Communicative Language Teaching
CALL Computer-assisted Language Learning
CLIL Content and Language Integrated Learning
ELF English as a Lingua Franca
LCD Liquid Crystal Display
SLA Second Language Acquisition
SAARRD Security, Aggression, Attention, Reflection, Retention, and
SIOP Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol
TL Target Language
TBLT Task-based Language Teaching
WL Whole Language
ZPD Zone of Proximal Development

The Work of Language Teaching

The work of teaching is simultaneously mental and social. It is also physical, emotional, practical,
behavioral, political, experiential, historical, cultural, spiritual, and personal. In short, teaching is very
complex, influenced not only by these 12 dimensions and perhaps others, but also requiring their
contingent orchestration in support of students learning.
Because of this complexity, although this is a book about the methods and methodological
innovations of recent years, we do not seek to convince readers that one method is superior to another,
or that there is or ever will be a perfect method.

Language Teacher Learning

Recognizing the complex and diverse nature of the work of teaching has stimulated much discussion
during the last 15 years around the question of how it is that language teachers learn to teach.
It is these two functions that we believe our study of methods is well-positioned to address. First of all,
by observing classes in action and then analyzing the observations, we intend to help readers
cultivate skills in reflectivity, important for their sense of self-efficacy.

A Study of Methods
Thus, a study of methods is invaluable in teacher education in at least five ways:

1. Methods serve as a foil for reflection that can aid teachers in bringing to conscious awareness the
thinking that underlies their actions.
2. They are able to see why they are attracted to certain methods and repelled by others. They are
able to make choices that are informed, not conditioned.
3. Being a community member involves learning the professional discourse that community members
use so that professional dialogue can take place.
4. Conversely, by being members of a professional discourse community, teachers may find their
own conceptions of how teaching leads to learning challenged.
5. A knowledge of methods helps to expand a teachers repertoire of techniques.

Criticisms of Methods
These criticisms deserve consideration. It is possible that a particular method may be imposed on
teachers by others. However, these others are likely to be disappointed if they hope that mandating a
particular method will lead to standardization. For we know that teaching is more than following a

Two notes about terminology are also in order:
1. First, we are using the term method here not to mean a formulaic prescription, but rather a
coherent set of principles linked to certain techniques and procedures.
2. We have used the term target language to mean the language being taught for three
reasons. First, we intend for this book to be useful to teachers of all languages, not only
English teachers. Second, we acknowledge that many teachers and students are multilingual
or plurilingual and so the use of the term second language does not really apply. Third, we
have avoided using the term foreign language because this designation is relative to the
speaker and mutable in the context.
3. Finally, although we have made every effort toward a faithful rendering of each method and
methodological innovation, there will undoubtedly be those who would not totally accept our

Which Method is Best?

It is not our purpose in this book to promote one method over another. Thus, from our perspective, it
is not a question of choosing between intact methods; nor should the presence of any method in this
book be construed as an endorsement by us.
Of course, it is not only the dynamics internal to the field that contribute to changing practices. There
are factors external to the fields that affect language teaching as well. For instance, population flows
among countries of the world have increased multilingualism.